Archive for ‘Prospects’

Tuesday: 02.19.2013

BA Top 100 Prospects

Some did not like the new form of Countdown entries as they’d gone away from the player profiles. That was because of time and I apologize, but I’m just devoting a lot of time to make sure the SP Guide gets out on time. Maybe in March once the SP Guide is done and things settle a bit I can pick the player profiles back up again.

In the meantime, we’re just three days from games and today was a big day in the minor league community as Baseball America released their top 100 prospects. In addition:

(told ya it was a big day!)

Monday: 02.18.2013

Countdown to Spring Training: 4 Days – Minor League Guy

Only 4 days until live game action…

Minor League Guy

In the age of the internet where seemingly any information can be found, the Cardinals broadcast scrambled to identify a farmhand during a Grapefruit League game against the Mets. Instead of scrapping the opportunity for a graphic, the team in the truck went with their gut and the result was awkwardly hilarious:

mlg

Of course, many of us baseball diehards knew ol’ Minor League Guy to be Oscar Taveras, the team’s second-best prospect according to Baseball Prospectus. Flash forward about a year and the broadcast team shouldn’t have any trouble identifying Taveras in a Grapefruit League game. First of all, he should be in the game well before the ninth inning, but more importantly he is now baseball’s second-best prospect or at least no worse than third-best.

He was even labeled properly in this picture with teammate Jon Jay in an article discussing his excellence.

Like last year, there is a triumvirate of guys – once again two hitters and a pitcher – and the order will vary from outlet to outlet and person to person. Last year it was Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Matt Moore; this year it’s Taveras, Jurickson Profar, and Dylan Bundy.

mlbpros

MLB.com

lawpros

ESPN’s Keith Law

sickpros

John Sickels (split lists hitters; pitchers)

 

And that is just from the early lists. Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America will have their top 100s out soon and I’d be surprised if they disagreed on the trio.

Though it was probably a bummer to get labeled as simply “Minor League Guy” on television, it looks like Taveras will have the last laugh as he now stands atop, or at least nears the top of baseball’s prospect heap. Imagine if he pans out on the Vladimir Guerrero comp that some have thrown on him, maybe he’ll end up being labeled as “Hall of Fame Guy” on a broadcast 20 years down the line.

Thursday: 06.28.2012

The 2002 Draft: The East in Review

A while back I took a look at the first round of the 2002 draft and reviewed the picks of each team.  With 10 years in the bank, it is fair to look back and judge how everything went for the teams.  I would also like to review each team and will do so by division starting with the west.  Here are the 10 east teams and their 2002 performance.

Other divisions: WEST

THE EAST

A look at the 2002 drafts of the East division teams by the numbers.

*player in minors, but played in MLB recently

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 6 (12%)

Combined WAR: -0.7

Best Pick: John Maine (3.7 WAR) in the 6th round

Still Playing in MLB: Adam Loewen*, Val Majewski* and Antoan Richardson*

Notable Picks: Hayden Penn and Brandon Fahey

Grade: F

Comments: Richardson was drafted in four of five years from 2001 to 2005 including in back-to-back years in the 27th round by the O’s before eventually winding up with the Giants in 2005.  He has toured the minors since getting a sniff with the Braves last year (4 PA) and has come full circle landing back in the Orioles organization.  This was a busted draft with a failed 1st rounder and the only notable pick getting traded for 30 below league average starts from Kris Benson (4.82 ERA, 94 ERA+).

 

BOSTON RED SOX

Picks: 49

Played in the majors: 5 (10%)

Combined WAR: 35.9

Best Pick: Jon Lester (22.1 WAR) in the 2nd round

Still Playing in MLB: Lester, Brandon Moss, Ricky Romero (didn’t sign) and Brian Bannister (didn’t sign)

Notable Picks: someone named Chris Smith who pitch in the MLB as recently as 2010 & in the minors last year

Grade: B+

Comments: Didn’t get anything but Lester, but he’s a star and came in the 2nd round as they were without a 1st rounder. That’s at least a semi-successful draft, if not an overwhelmingly successful one.

 

NEW YORK YANKEES

Picks: 48

Played in the majors: 5 (10%)

Combined WAR: 0.4

Best Pick: Phil Coke (1.3 WAR) in the 26th round

Still Playing in MLB: Coke, Matt Carson, Eric Hacker, Dane de la Rosa

Notable Picks: Brad Halsey and Brandon Weeden, yes that Brandon Weeden

Grade: D-

Comments: I gave them a D- instead of an F+ because they were without a 1st or 3rd round pick.  Coke at least did something and aided in the Curtis Granderson trade, though I doubt it hinged on him in any way, shape or form.  Do they get additional WAR if Weeden leads the Browns to several good seasons in the NFL?

 

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 9 (18%)

Combined WAR: 35.5

Best Pick: B.J. Upton (12.1 WAR) in the 1st round

Still Playing in MLB: Upton, Jacoby Ellsbury (didn’t sign), Mike Pelfrey (didn’t sign), Jason Hammel, Cesar Ramos, Chris Leroux* (didn’t sign)

Notable Picks: Jason Pridie, Elijah Dukes, Wes Bankston

Grade: B

Comments: It would’ve been an A+++ had they been able to get their picks to sign, but Pelf and Ells went to college.  A solid B for a potential star in Upton who is still just starting his prime, the thinking behind the Pelf and Ells picks (essentially partial credit since they didn’t sign) and Hammel who only showed flashes with the Devil Rays before breaking out in Baltimore this year.

 

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 8 (16%)

Combined WAR: -0.5

Best Pick: Dave Bush (2.5 WAR) in the 2nd round

Still Playing in MLB: Bush, Erik Kratz, Drew Butera

Notable Picks: Russ Adams, J. Brent Cox (later a 2nd round pick of NYY in 2005)

Grade: D+

Comments: It might look like an F, but I guess 506 games from their first two picks is at least something even though they didn’t really pan out.  Bush teased and tantalized with impressive skills, mostly with Milwaukee, but could never really put it together despite his consistently strong K/BB rates.

He was actually at an NL-best 4.4 in 2006, his first year with the Brewers, but still posted a basically league average 4.41 ERA in 210 innings. Another thing that kept it from F-dom is that Bush yielded Lyle Overbay, who gave the Jays 10.9 WAR in five years.  That’s not particularly special, but enough to keep from failing.

 

ATLANTA BRAVES

Picks: 52

Played in the majors: 6 (11%)

Combined WAR: 27

Best Pick: Brian McCann (20 WAR) in the 2nd round

Still Playing in MLB: McCann, Jeff Francoeur, Tyler Greene (didn’t sign), Charlie Morton, Chuck James*

Notable Picks: Dan Meyer (big piece in Tim Hudson deal)

Grade: A-

Comments: They pulled a superstar talent in the second round with McCann and he is essentially the entire basis for their A- grade.  Francoeur gave them a solid four and a half years.  After a down 2008-2010, his career has been somewhat reborn in Kansas City.  Morton and James essentially cancel each other out.

 

FLORIDA MARLINS

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 9 (18%)

Combined WAR: 29

Best Pick: Josh Johnson (21.8 WAR) in the 4th round

Still Playing in MLB: Johnson, Jeremy Hermida, Robert Andino, Nick Hundley (didn’t sign), Tim Wood*, Ross Wolf*

Notable Picks: Scott Olsen

Grade: A-

Comments: Like Atlanta, their grade is built on a non-1st rounder becoming a superstar and he was an even later pick than McCann.  Hermida didn’t really pan out as a 1st rounder, but he has logged 2012 at-bats, 1708 of them for Florida, as essentially an average player (101 OPS+).  No, it’s not star-level by any stretch, but it’s not a complete bust, either.

Andino has been a late-20s bloomer with the Orioles netting 2.7 of 2.0 career WAR with them.  The Marlins got Hayden Penn for him in 2009, who never emerged.  If Hundley had signed or Olsen had panned out on his rookie year promise (181 IP, 8.3 K/9 as a 22-year old), this would’ve been an incredible draft for the Marlins.

 

MONTREAL EXPOS

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 5 (10%)

Combined WAR: -0.3

Best Pick: LOL

Still Playing in MLB: Mike O’Connor*, Sean White*, Jon Link*

Notable Picks: Clint Everts*

Grade: F—, even Texas thought this was a bad draft

Comments: I think I ended up giving the Rangers a Q- and the Expos were worse as they had just two guys deliver positive WAR and nobody cracked the 1.0 WAR mark.  Everts, their top pick, hasn’t made the majors yet he still plugging away in the minors at age 27.  He is now a bullpen arm in AAA for the Blue Jays.  Control has always eluded him, but he is enjoying his best stretch of finding the zone with Las Vegas albeit in just 16 innings (2.2 BB/9).  Beyond that, three relievers are still knocking around the minors from this draft, though none remain with the Expos/Nationals.

 

NEW YORK METS

Picks: 48

Played in the majors: 2 (4%)

Combined WAR: 18

Best Pick: Scott Kazmir (15.2 WAR) in the 1st round

Still Playing in MLB: Matt Lindstrom

Notable Picks:

Grade: C-

Comments: Kazmir was a nice 1st round pick, but the Mets netted exactly none of the profit as they dealt him for Victor Zambrano, inexplicably.  If I am going to factor the positive returns of traded prospects, then I have to factor in the negative returns like this horrific trade.  In three years, they got 202 innings of 4.42 ERA from Zambrano.  Lindstrom never made it to the majors with the Mets.  He was traded for Jason Vargas and then Vargas was part of a big deal that netted J.J. Putz and Jeremy Reed, all three of whom did nothing as Mets and two of whom (Vargs and Putz) have emerged elsewhere.

 

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Picks: 48

Played in the majors: 7 (14%)

Combined WAR: 24.6

Best Pick: Cole Hamels (25.5 WAR) in the 1st round

Still Playing in MLB: Zack Segovia*, Bobby Korecky*, Sam LeCure (didn’t sign)

Notable Picks: Scott Mathieson, Dusty Ryan

Grade: A-

Comments: A superstar 1st rounder is the only return here, but it’s an ace-level elite pitcher who has given them 1244 innings with incredible skills and continues to get better.  Plus he was a mid-round pick, it wouldn’t be as impressive if he was a top five star who panned out.  Of course, this is likely their last year with him as they are unlikely to re-sign him.  If things don’t turn around for the team there are rumors they could trade Hamels in July.

Friday: 06.22.2012

The 2002 Draft: The West in Review

A while back I took a look at the first round of the 2002 draft and reviewed the picks of each team.  With 10 years in the bank, it is fair to look back and judge how everything went for the teams.  I would also like to review each team and will do so by division starting with the west.  Here are the nine west teams and their 2002 performance.

THE WEST

A look at the 2002 drafts of the West division teams by the numbers.

*player in minors, but played in MLB recently

 

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 5 (10%)

Combined WAR: 21.1

Best Pick: Howie Kendrick (14.9 WAR) in the 10th round

Still Playing in MLB: Kendrick, Joe Saunders, Kevin Jepsen, Bobby Wilson and Steve Delabar

Grade: B

Comments: They got a first round pick contributed nearly 700 league average innings before (with prospects) turning into Dan Haren.  Additionally, they got a late-round gem in Kendrick who has developed into one of the better second basemen in the league save his currently monstrosity of a season (84 OPS+ in 215 PA).  Plus there is the faintest outside hope that Jepsen and Wilson could still offer some plus value as they remain on the Angels roster.  Delabar is currently with the Mariners.

 

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Picks: 51

Played in the majors: 14 (27%)

Combined WAR: 49.8 (artificially inflated by Jonathan Papelbon’s 16.2; they took him in the 40th rd.)

Best Pick: Nick Swisher (14.2 WAR) in the 1st round

Still Playing in MLB: Swisher, Papelbon, Joe Blanton, Mark Teahen*, John Baker, Jared Burton, Trevor Crowe*, Brad Ziegler

Grade: C-

Comments: They had seven picks in the top 39 and two other top 100 picks yet returned just 23.6 WAR on those picks.  I realize baseball prospecting is difficult, but for a team that was supposed to be on the cutting edge of scouting and analysis, that is not good.  There were five others guys in rounds two through four who netted 20+ WAR and they had so many cracks at those guys.

I would’ve given them a D, but Swisher netted Gio Gonzalez, Ryan Sweeney and Fautino de los Santos (who is still with them).  Gonzalez turned into a host of talent this past offseason while Sweeney was part of the deal that brought Josh Reddick and minor leaguers Miles Head and Raul Alcantara.  The former has a 1.074 OPS in High-A.  So ostensibly they are still adding to the WAR total delivered from this draft even with Swish and Blanton (and even Gio) long gone.

 

SEATTLE MARINERS

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 6 (12%)

Combined WAR: 7.0 (6.0 of which came from guys they didn’t sign)

Best Pick: Bryan LaHair (0.7 WAR, but -0.5 for Seattle) in the 39th round

Still Playing in MLB: John Mayberry Jr. (didn’t sign), Gaby Sanchez (didn’t sign), Travis Buck (didn’t sign)

Grade: F

Comments: They got 166 plate appearances out of the 2002 draft.  That’s it.  LaHair gave them 150 (w/a .661 OPS) while some guy name T.J. Bohn (30th round) gave them another 16 of .607 OPS.  Their first five picks were all high schoolers before they took a JuCo guys, followed by a Cuban and then two more high schoolers and another JuCo guy.  They didn’t take a four year collegian until the 11th round.  Not sure what that means, just pointing it.  This was a bad, bad draft.

 

TEXAS RANGERS

Picks: 46

Played in the majors: 4 (8%)

Combined WAR: 0.1 (not a misprint)

Best Pick: Get real

Still Playing in MLB: Kameron Loe and Jesse Chavez

Grade: What is worse than F?  Q-

Comments: Holy hell.  I originally gave the Mariners an F- until I saw the Rangers draft.  This is what happens when you don’t pick in rounds two through five.  That’s because they signed Chan Ho Park, Juan Gonzalez, Todd Van Poppel and Jay Powell.  Those guys delivered a whopping 0.6 WAR to the Rangers.  That was the re-signing of JuanGone as he of course delivered 27.5 WAR from 1989 to 1999.  Why did they wait three more years to hire Jon Daniels as their GM?  The 2003 draft delivered John Danks, Ian Kinsler and Scott Feldman, but 2004 was another shitshow.

 

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 5 (10%)

Combined WAR: 4.2

Best Pick: Chris Snyder (4.0 WAR) in the 2nd round

Still Playing in MLB: Snyder and Sergio Santos

Notable Picks: Dustin Nippert (2-time top 100 prospect), Lance Cormier and Brian Barden

Grade: C-

Comments: One pick after the sixth round (Nippert) made the majors for this draft.  Santos, originally drafted as a shortstop, was traded with Troy Glaus to Toronto for Orlando Hudson and Miguel Batista which netted the D’Backs 11.6 WAR going forward.  That saved them from a D grade.  The Blue Jays have clearly coveted Santos for some time as they traded for him twice.

 

COLORADO ROCKIES

Picks: 51

Played in the majors: 11 (21%)

Combined WAR: 25.1

Best Pick: Jeff Francis (8.6 WAR) in the 1st round

Still Playing in MLB: Francis, Micah Owings (didn’t sign as 2nd rounder, went in the 3rd round three years later), Matt Garza (didn’t sign), Jeff Baker, Ryan Spilborghs, Ryan Mattheus and Drew Sutton (didn’t sign)

Notable Picks: Ryan Shealy

Grade: C+

Comments: Strong 1st round pick and some decent fringe players that were basically league average (Spilborghs and Baker) for about 1100 games.  Baker turned into Al Alburquerque which would have been a coup as he was great in his pro debut, but it was with the Tigers.  Garza was a 40th round gamble out of high school, but stuck with his commitment to Fresno State and became a 1st round pick for Minnesota three years later.

 

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Picks: 52

Played in the majors: 9 (17%)

Combined WAR: 37.6

Best Pick: Russell Martin (18.1 WAR) in the 17th round

Still Playing in MLB: Martin, James Loney, Jonathan Broxton, James McDonald, Eric Stults, Robert Ray, Doug Mathis* (didn’t sign), Luke Hochevar (didn’t sign)

Notable Picks: Delwyn Young, Greg Miller (#8 prospect in 2004)

Grade: A+

Comments: Solid 1st rounder in Loney, plus another hit in the 2nd round with Broxton and then their best pick 15 rounds later.  Not to mention the fact that McDonald and Stults were picked in the 11th and 15th rounds and they are still contributing in the majors, although not with the Dodgers.  They should’ve been more patient with McDonald, but they still get credit for the pick.  While not a draft or prospect maven, I feel like four impact players and another contributor in Stults is an excellent return.

 

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 7 (14%)

Combined WAR: 7.9

Best Pick: Khalil Greene (7.4 WAR) in the 1st round

Still Playing in MLB: George Kottaras, Paul McAnulty, Lance Pendleton, Andy LaRoche (didn’t sign), Jared Wells*,

Grade: D-

Comments: After Greene, the 2nd through 11th rounders didn’t even make the majors and when you consider that McAnulty (12th) and Pendelton (13th) have been negative contributors as major leaguers, there was no positive value from the 2nd round until Kottaras in the 20th round.  LaRoche was taken in the 21st round, but stuck around at his JuCo for another year and ended up going in the 39th round of the 2003 draft to the Dodgers.

 

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Picks: 50

Played in the majors: 9 (18%)

Combined WAR: 38.3

Best Pick: Matt Cain (27.6 WAR) in the 1st round

Still Playing in MLB: Cain, Fred Lewis*, Kevin Correia, Clay Hensley, Travis Ishikawa, Alex Hinshaw* and Matt Palmer*

Notable Picks: Daniel Ortmeier

Grade: A+

Comments: When you get a star, the draft is a success.  And it’s a resounding success when you supplement that star with a handful of contributors as the Giants did here.  All of their top four picks (Cain, Lewis, Ortmeier, Correia) made the majors.  Most of Hensley’s positive value came elsewhere, but now, at age 32, he’s dealing out of the Giants’ bullpen with a sub-2.00 ERA.  Sharp draft here for the Giants.

Thursday: 06.21.2012

2012 Futures Games Rosters Announced

I have been an avid watcher of the Futures Game for several years now.  In fact, I can only vaguely remember the time when I didn’t care about prospects.  I probably knew of the very best, say the 3-4 high impact prospects on the verge, but I certainly didn’t have decent or better knowledge of 80% of the Futures rosters as I do these days.  This year’s game is sure to display some incredible talent likely to be making waves in the big leagues very soon, especially the United States roster.

I don’t know if it is the best US roster in Futures Game history, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was and it is definitely a contender.  The pitching staff is just filthy with only Jameson Taillon toting a sub-9.0 K/9 and his 8.1 K/9 is hardly poor.  Plus his 1.17 WHIP is one of the best on the squad.  The staff has 704 innings with a 9.7 K/9 and 3.2 K/BB.

Along with Taillon, they will roll out stud arms Taijuan Walker, Trevor Bauer, Dylan Bundy and Gerrit Cole among others.  Three of those four were drafted just last year.  Just an absurd amount of talent.  The World roster is hardly bereft of talent with Jose Fernandez and Chris Reed standing out on their staff, both of whom were also drafted in last year’s insane first round.

On the hitting side, viewers will be treated to Billy Hamilton, the blazing fast infielder in the Cincinnati Reds organization (who plays for the Bakersfield Blaze… pun wasn’t originally intended, but then when I noticed it I kept it on purpose so it became intended).  Hamilton stole 103 bases in 135 games last year.  With 80 in 66 games, he is on pace to steal 163 bases if he plays that many games again.  That’s reminiscent of the first Billy Hamilton.

Additionally, the US is trotting out Nick Castellanos from the Tigers organization who put together a ridiculous .405/.461/.553 line in 55 games at High-A before getting promoted to AA earlier this month.  He had three 0-fers in High-A.  Three.  He also had 27 multi-hit games including a stretch of five in a row.  He has come back to earth a bit in AA having already posted four 0-fers in his 11 games.

Other names to focus on include Nolan Arenado, Travis d’Arnaud, Kolten Wong, Wil Myers, Christian Yelich, Mike Olt and Manny Machado.  Those are just some of my favorite names, they all merit watching.

Jurickson Profar is the standout hitter on the World roster (well, standout among standouts).  The 19-year old shortstop for Texas is battering AA to the tune of .295/.374/.481 with 30 extra-base hits (out of 79 total hits) and an advanced approach especially when you consider his age.  After posting 65 walks against just 63 strikeouts at High-A last year, he has remained strong with a 35/45 ratio.  He is a special glove in the middle of the infield, too, giving the Rangers an embarrassment of riches that will likely result in Ian Kinsler moving once Profar is ready.

The Cardinals haven’t missed a beat in their lineup this year despite the departure of Albert Pujols, but the core of Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman is hardly young so they have to be thrilled to have 20-year old Oscar Tavares tearing apart AA after a superb season in High-A last year.  I got a chance to see Tavares in the Arizona Fall League last November and only Arenado impressed me more among the players I saw.

He has an aggressive approach, but it’s controlled aggression.  While he doesn’t walk a ton (8% BB rate), he doesn’t flail wildly, either (13% K rate).  He has a .323/.380/.579 line with 86 hits, 38 which are extra-base hits including 13 bombs.  Keep a close eye on him when he bats.

Additionally, I am really excited to see Francisco Lindor (Cleveland) as I haven’t seen him at all yet.  I desperately hope he goes to AFL this November so I can get in a few games of his as I’m really excited about him going forward except for the fact that he plays for one of the rivals of my Tigers.

Just to give you an idea of how well these rosters are put together in terms of future major leaguers, check out the 2011 entrees who have since played in the majors whether later in 2011 or sometime this year:

World – Henderson Alvarez, Kelvin Herrera, Liam Hendriks, Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, Wilin Rosario, Yonder Alonso, Jose Altuve*, Alex Liddi, Dayan Viciedo

US – Matt Moore, Brad Peacock, Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Thornburg, Jacob Turner, Devin Mesoraco, Paul Goldschmidt, Jason Kipnis*, Will Middlebrooks, Bryce Harper*, Mike Trout*

* could make this year’s All-Star roster

Going back a few years, 35 of the 55 (five were injury or MLB promotion replacements) players on the 2010 rosters have reached the big leagues.  Looking even deeper, a full 80% (40 of 50) of the 2008 rosters have reached the majors.

Meanwhile, Profar, Arenado, Machado and Myers are headed to their second Futures Game after making the 2011 game as well.

Here are the full 2012 rosters including each player’s highest level reached to date:

This year’s Futures Game is on Sunday, July 8th at 4 PM Central on ESPN2 and MLB.tv.

Jonathan Mayo’s Preview

Baseball Prospectus’ Stat Sheet

Futures Game Wiki

Friday: 04.27.2012

Here He Comes

Despite a modest start to his AAA career (.250/.333./375), Bryce Harper is headed to Los Angeles to make his MLB debut against the Dodgers and Chad Billingsley.  Harper made a push to break camp with the big league club, but that was always a longshot.  Most saw his callup coming in mid-May or early-June, but the disabling of Ryan Zimmerman has facilitated the potentially high impact move for the NL’s best ballclub by record (14-5, .737 win pct.) and second to the 15-4 Texas Rangers for baseball’s best record.  The 2-time #1 overall prospect according to Baseball America hasn’t been great in his 57 games in the high minors (37 in AA last year) toting a .254/.328/.388 line in 229 plate appearances with four home runs, but that won’t keep expectations from being unrealistic and sky-high.

The potential is enough to make him worthy of a pickup in literally any format, but be careful with who you cut to get him in 10-team mixed leagues.  Chances are strong that you have a replacement level player somewhere on the roster, but don’t drop a real talent just in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle.  I really hope we see Harper coming up and catch fire immediately, but at the same time, that is unlikely.  He will likely have his moments, but I think we will see a .240 average with 12-15 home runs if he stays up for the rest of the year.  He is still just 19-years old.  In the expansion era (since 1961), we have seen just 19 players come up and have 100 or more plate appearances as 19-year olds and the results have been mixed.

(click to enlarge)

Just six of the 19 ended up with an OPS+ of 100 or better (100 being league average).  One of those was Ken Griffey Jr. who skipped AAA destroying the minors for 129 games before hitting the ground running on his Hall of Fame career.  He was thought of as a once in a generation talent like Harper, who has… yep… 129 games of minor league work on his ledger.  That is a decent collection of talent, though only Griffey was transcendent and Conigliaro may have been had it not been for his hit by pitch accident.

How about the collection of those who were subpar as 19-year olds?

(click to enlarge)

Now that is a collection of talent.  A-Rod, both Uptons, Yount, Beltre, Pudge and Jones all went on to have very successful careers (several of which are still going) including some Hall of Fame resumes in there.  Meanwhile, Trout is running neck and neck with Harper for the top spot on prospect lists and he was pretty bland in his 40 games of work as a major leaguer last year.  That was after a lot more minor league experience than Harper has had, too.  The point is that you should temper your expectations with a 19-year old in the majors, especially one with limited AAA experience during which he has been pretty ordinary.  There is a non-zero chance that Harper could set the world on fire from the jump.  There is a stronger chance that he looks downright mortal and often overmatched as he gets acclimated to a level of competition unlike anything he has ever faced.

Friday: 07.8.2011

Mike Trout Called Up!

He’s here!!!  Today the Los Angeles Angels announced that Mike Trout will be called up to replace the injured Peter Bourjos.  The stay could be temporary for the 19-year old from AA, but they will definitely give him some at-bats right away to see how their uber-prospect handles the jump.  Trout tore through the Midwest and Cal Leagues last year as an 18-year old, skyrocketing up prospect boards in the process.  His season of .341/.428/.490 with 28 doubles, nine triples, 10 home runs and 58 stolen bases landed him first or second on every board this preseason.  Only Bryce Harper surpassed him on some boards.

That is the intro to my write-up on Trout over at RotoHardball.com and you can click here for the rest.  Instead of parroting my thoughts verbatim, you might as well just head over there to read my take as well as catch up on all the other great content we have at the site.

The one thing I will add that didn’t format well over at RH was a chart of the 19-year old hitters who have come up in the last 20 years.  This might give you an idea of what to expect from Trout.

As amazing of a prospect as he is, don’t be surprised if he doesn’t fare well right away, especially after skipping AAA.  Look at the names on that list, except for Karim Garcia they are all star players and only Edgar Renteria did well.  BJ Upton wasn’t awful, especially considering how much his fantasy managers would love a .258 average these days.  Temper your expectations on the shiny new toy.  Perhaps the best bet if you do get him is to flip him.  If you’re in contention and you have him in a keeper league, you can fetch an absolute mint for him and severely improve your title hopes.  Re-draft league returns won’t be as significant, but you can cash in the ticket for an improvement to your team.  Sure it might pan out for that team, but you might also get something for a guy who could be back in AA or AAA by the time the All-Star break is over.

EDIT: It appears on Baseball-Reference.com has Renteria as debuting at age 19.  They have his birth year as 1976 while every other outlet I have seen has him at 1975.  Of course this only strengthens the point about 19 year olds struggling.  When you lop of his debut, the remaining six have a .228/.281/.390 line in 825 plate appearances.  Thanks to Paul Bourdett for pointing out the inconsistency of BRef & other outlets to me on Twitter.

Thursday: 06.23.2011

2011 Futures Game Roster Primer

As I have become more and more interested in prospects the last few years, the All-Star Futures Game has become one of my favorite events of the year.  This year’s sets up to be another great game with the best & brightest of the game’s future getting a chance to show off on a big stage.  This year’s game is highlighted by the consensus 1-2 prospects in the game this preseason: Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.  The order of the two may have varied, but they topped just about every list.

Here’s a look at all of the participants along with some information about their 2011 season:

(I apologize for the table, it’s a lot uglier than the one I built originally.  I have no idea why the tables I build out don’t work properly when I load the HTML.  It’s frustrating.)

Player Team Age Level BA Org. RK Season Stats Notes
Paul Goldschmidt ARI 23 AA 11 .328/.450/.656, 22 HR, 61 RBI in 250 AB Hit 35 HR last yr; has 1 HR every 14 AB in 1062 min. lg ABs
Tyler Skaggs ARI 19 A+ 2 11.1 K/9, 3.2 K/BB, 3.36 ERA, 1.18 WHIP in 83 IP A key piece in the Dan Haren trade
Julio Teheran ATL 20 AAA/MLB 1 7.8 K/9, 3.8 K/BB, 1.83 ERA, 0.98 WHIP in 79 IP Top rated pitching prospect, reached AAA after just 40 AA IP
Arodys Vizcaino ATL 20 A+/AA 7 8.7 K/9, 3.6 K/BB, 2.86 ERA, 1.03 WHIP in 66 IP Health is the primary concern otherwise yet another ATL stud
Manny Machado BAL 18 A 1 .276/.376/.483, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 3 SB in 145 AB Came out on fire in Apr, but knee inj. cut most of May & some of Jun
Jonathan Schoop BAL 19 A/A+ 10 .313/.369/.487, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 53 R in 265 AB Enjoying nice full-season debut, no longer SS w/Machado in system
Chih-Hsien Chiang BOS 23 AA UR .307/.363/.620, 11 HR, 41 RBI, 21 2B in 192 AB Breaking out in AA repeat w/same HR total already in 246 fewer AB
Will Middlebrooks BOS 22 AA 11 .294/.335/.478, 8 HR, 32 RBI, 27 R in 201 AB Power starting to show in a breakout season for the 3B
Matt Szczur CHC 21 A 7 .327/.383/.463, 5 HR, 46 R, 16 SB in 214 AB Good ballplayer, great person
Gregory Infante CWS 23 AA, AAA 6 8.2 K/9, 2.0 K/BB, 1.64 ERA, 1.39 WHIP in 33 IP Had 5 scoreless IP in majors in ’10, but control is the final hurdle
Dayan Viciedo CWS 22 AAA 3 .324/.364/.520, 11 HR, 49 RBI, 22 2B in 281 AB Free-swinger did well in 104 MLB AB last yr, unsure why B.Morel has job now
Yonder Alonso CIN 24 AAA 4 .313/.373/.496, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 35 R in 256 AB Major league ready, but no place to play thus it’s time for a trade
Devin Mesoraco CIN 23 AAA 3 .322/.404/.545, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 26 2B in 233 AB Has carried over last year’s huge breakthrough w/another big season
Jason Kipnis CLE 24 AAA 3 .291/.372/.496, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 10 SB in 258 AB Could be up soon as Cord Phelps flounders in limited opportunities
Drew Pomeranz CLE 22 A+ 4 11.4 K/9, 3.4 K/BB, 1.93 ERA, 1.10 WHIP in 61 IP SP help is on the way for CLE w/he & Alex White, who got hurt earlier this yr
Nolan Arenado COL 20 A+ 3 .283/.327/.418, 6 HR, 42 RBI, 38 R in 251 AB The 3B job is open in COL, but even the fast-track would be late ’12
Wilin Rosario COL 22 AA 2 .263/.302/.469, 11 HR, 25 RBI, 28 R in 213 AB 2nd tour in AA hasn’t been as kind w/122 pt drop in his OPS
Francisco Martinez DET 20 AA 4 .291/.332/.427, 7 HR, 34 RBI, 44 R in 227 AB Numbers don’t overwhelm even in ’11 breakout, but keep his age in mind
Jacob Turner DET 20 AA 1 7.2 K/9, 3.1 K/BB, 2.94 ERA, 1.08 WHIP in 80 IP Might break ’12 camp in DET rotation given aggressive promos in Motown
Jhan Marinez FLO 22 AA 4 11.6 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 3.77 ERA, 1.61 WHIP in 29 IP Lacks much command right now, but mid-90s arm could close in future
Jose Altuve HOU 21 A+/AA 28 398/.434/.612, 8 HR, 51 RBI, 23 SB in 299 AB Insane numbers are impressive regardless, but more so from 5’5″ Altuve
Kelvin Herrera KC 21 A+/AA 30 10.2 K/9, 13.3 K/BB, 1.27 ERA, 0.74 WHIP in 35 IP Converted SP has reinvented himself as an elite RP, though health is a concern
Wil Myers KC 20 AA 2 .295/.366/.418, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 23 R in 146 AB Heating up after slow start in which he played just 20 G through May
Mike Trout LAA 19 AA 1 .324/.424/.557, 9 HR, 9 3B, 24 SB in 244 AB Actually better than ’10; could feasibly reach MLB by late summer
Alfredo Silverio LAD 24 AA UR .324/.343/.581, 7 HR, 50 RBI, 11 3B in 253 AB Quite a free swinger w/just 89 BB in 2082 pro ABs
Tyler Thornburg MIL 22 A 6 10.0 K/9, 3.0 K/BB, 1.57 ERA, 1.08 WHIP in 69 IP Bright spot in thin MIL system w/mid-90s heat
Kyle Gibson MIN 23 AAA 1 9.4 K/9, 4.0 K/BB, 3.89 ERA, 1.30 WHIP in 76 IP Std. MIN control artist missing a lot of bats in ’11; could be up this summer
Liam Hendriks MIN 22 AA 6 8.2 K/9, 4.4 K/BB, 2.81 ERA, 1.17 WHIP in 77 IP An Austrailian version of the MIN profile
Matt Harvey NYM 22 A+ 4 10.9 K/9, 3.8 K/BB, 2.37 ERA, 1.20 WHIP in 76 IP Great pro debut for the UNC product; could be NYM’s #1 prospect in ’12
Jefry Marte NYM 20 A+ 26 .283/.357/.402, 5 HR, 32 RBI, 9 SB in 254 AB Has to hit to have a real future, 15 E at 3B
Austin Romine NYY 22 AA 6 .298/.362/.421, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 23 R in 178 AB Part of trio of Cs in NYY top 6 prospects; related to MLBers Andrew & Kevin
Grant Green OAK 23 AA 1 .293/.344/.407, 4 HR, 37 RBI, 35 R in 263 AB Many believe he doesn’t have the chops to stick at SS
Jarred Cosart PHI 21 A+ 4 7.5 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 3.16 ERA, 1.20 WHIP in 74 IP Huge ceiling, but still quite a while away
Sebastian Valle PHI 20 A+ 6 .343/.355/.482, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 21 R in 166 AB Just 2 BB in 169 PA, I’m not sure an SP could walk Valle if he tried
Chase d’Arnaud PIT 24 AAA 10 .280/.347/.418, 4 HR, 33 RBI, 17 SB in 239 AB He’s not *completely* ready, but he can’t be worse than Ronny Cedeno
Starling Marte PIT 22 AA 4 .338/.371/.475, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 15 SB in 263 AB Hasn’t hit below .309 since coming to the States in 2009
James Darnell SD 24 AA 12 .346/.438/.634, 16 HR, 57 RBI, 57 R in 257 AB His ’11 SLG (.634) isn’t too far from his AA OPS in 101 G last yr (.756)
Reymond Fuentes SD 20 A+ 4 .294/.354/.351, 0 HR, 30 SB, 52 R in 265 AB Speed & defense CF who came over in Adrian Gonzalez deal
Gary Brown SF 22 A+ 3 .328/.398/.477, 6 HR, 47 RBI, 32 SB in 287 AB Needs to become a smarter base stealer (70% success rate in 46 attempts)
Carlos Martinez StL 19 A 3 11.8 K/9, 3.6 K/BB, 2.48 ERA, 1.10 WHIP in 33 IP Making big waves in ’11; will skyrocket up lists for ’12
Shelby Miller StL 20 AA 1 12.1 K/9, 4.1 K/BB, 2.39 ERA, 1.13 WHIP in 79 IP Could be the #1 SP prospect in baseball for ’12
Alex Liddi SEA 22 AAA 13 .260/.326/.471, 13 HR, 46 RBI, 22 2B in 289 AB Has underwhelmed in upper levels since High-A MVP in 2009
James Paxton SEA 22 A UR 13.1 K/9, 2.4 K/BB, 2.70 ERA, 1.40 WHIP in 50 IP Paxton has shown little rust after yr off due to being ineligible for Sr. season
Hak-Ju Lee TB 20 A+ 4 (for Cubs) .339/.412/.468, 2 HR, 20 SB, 51 R in 233 AB I have seen nothing but rave reviews for Lee, can’t wait to see him play
Matt Moore TB 22 AA 2 11.9 K/9, 4.5 K/BB, 2.43 ERA, 0.97 WHIP in 78 IP His K rates in five years as a pro: 13-13-13-13-12; total of 12.7 K/9 in 420 IP
Martin Perez TEX 20 AA 1 8.5 K/9, 2.4 K/BB, 3.28 ERA, 1.32 WHIP in 82 IP Example of numbers not telling everything in minors, still TEX #1 after 5.96 ERA
Jurickson Profar TEX 18 A 2 .268/.378/.490, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 38 R in 208 AB 32 BB/29 K in 248 PA, good for 13% BB rate; already a plus-plus defender at SS
Henderson Alvarez TOR 21 A+/AA 17 5.4 K/9, 3.1 K/BB, 2.98 ERA, 1.03 WHIP in 51 IP Seems to have K-worthy stuff, yet relies on heavy GB lean (59%) instead of Ks
Bryce Harper WAS 18 A+ 1 .330/.429/.586, 14 HR, 45 RBI, 13 SB in 227 AB Living up the immense hype in pro debut, what will he do next?
Brad Peacock WAS 23 AA 10 12.1 K/9, 6.4 K/BB, 2.46 ERA, 0.85 WHIP in 80 IP Has taken K & BB rates to new heights adding to burgeoning crop of WAS arms
Wednesday: 06.22.2011

The Next Wave: 11 AAA Pitching Prospects

Just over a week ago, I wrote up a bunch of AAA hitting prospects who we could see make an impact throughout the summer and now it is time to take a look at a group of pitchers who could do the same.  As with the hitters we have already seen a large group of pitchers come up such as Danny Duffy, Rubby de la Rosa, Juan Nicasio, Brad Hand, Andrew Oliver, Charlie Furbush, Alex Cobb and Alex White.

We have also seen Randall Delgado, Mike Minor & Julio Teheran from the Atlanta Braves, but they have bounced back and forth from minors to majors.  All three are currently down right now, but since they have already been up, you won’t see them on this list.

This list is thinner than the 21 hitters that were discussed, but that actually works out just fine given how plentiful pitching has been this year in the dramatic new pitcher’s era that has carried over (and accelerated) from 2010.

Todd Redmond (ATL) – It is just ridiculous how much major league-ready pitching this organization has right now.  How often does a 26 year old in AAA with a 2.52 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 6.9 K/9 and 3.1 K/BB have almost no chance at making it to the majors with his current team?  Not very often, but when your parent club runs five deep on their rotation followed by three blue-chip prospects ahead of you, it is tough sledding for big league playing time.  Perhaps they will consider moving Redmond in a trade and he will get a shot with a new team.

Felix Doubront (BOS) – The backend of the Red Sox rotation is very much unsettled and there is no certainty that recent call-up Andrew Miller will be the savior which could open a chance for Doubront and his strike-per-inning arm.  He has a sub-3.00 ERA over his last 117 minor league innings (2.89) combining this year and last with 112 strikeouts.  I hope he does get a chance to prove himself as a starter because he can miss bats and induce groundballs at a strong rate; keep the southpaw on your radar.

Kyle Weiland (BOS) – Another hard thrower, Weiland also has a strong sinker and has put together a strong debut in AAA striking out nearly 10 per game though control is a bit of an issue (4 BB/9).  He has induced a lot of groundballs at every stop including at a 48% clip this year.  He profiles a little more like a reliever than Doubront for me mainly because of the control, but there is no denying that Weiland has been one of Pawtucket’s best starters.

Duane Below (DET) – The Toledo Mud Hens has a strong rotation earlier this between Below, Furbush and Oliver.  Furbush has come up and stabilized the bullpen at the big league level and Oliver got a quick two-start look before returning meaning perhaps Below is next?  Phil Coke has hardly been special in his conversion from reliever to starter and while I much prefer Oliver long-term, Below could get a look and perhaps contribute for the rest of 2011 while Oliver continues to work at AAA.

Below (25) is two years older than Oliver, but it has been a deliberate ascension through the minors for the lefty.  Coming off of 2009 Tommy John Surgery, his strikeouts have tumbled from strikeout-per-inning stuff to a craftier 6.6 K/9 level, but he has improved his control significantly to compensate.  I don’t see star potential, but he could come up and be a deep mixed league or AL-Only league asset thanks to a solid, though unspectacular skill set.

Mike Montgomery (KC) – The 2011 season has delivered the first bit of real adversity in Montgomery’s career as a pro as he pummeled every level up until AAA with ERAs of 2.61 or better at every level save a 3.47 at AA.  He had shown impeccable control and command at every level up until AA, too, when his walk rate pushed 4.0 per game (3.9 in 60 IP) giving him his first sub-2.0 K/BB.  Those struggles have amplified and continued at AAA as he has a 5.3 BB/9 and 1.4 K/BB leading to a very ugly 5.83 ERA and 1.55 WHIP.  He could turn it around, go on a stretch and be in the majors in a flash which is why he is included on this list, but things haven’t gone exactly according to plan for Montgomery.

He looked pretty sharp when I saw him back in April, but that was also his best month by far (2.67 ERA) and yet he wasn’t as crisp as he looked in Arizona Fall League.  Pitcher growing pains are nothing new so just be patient if you own him in a league with minor league rosters and prepare for the very real possibility that he doesn’t hit the majors in 2011 or only gets a cup of coffee in September.

Kyle Gibson (MIN) – Hey, a groundball-heavy strikethrower, how original Minnesota.  Gibson pounds the zone as those in the Twins organization are wont to do and his slider and changeup not only induce plenty of weak on the ground contact (55% GB rate this year; 54%+ at all four stops as a pro), but also generate a lot of swings & misses allowing him to pile up enough strikeouts for a 9.4 K/9 in 76 innings at AAA.  He might be what I wish Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey were all these years which is a combination of the best parts of themselves (pinpoint control, above average strikeout rates) and Carl Pavano essentially trading their fatal flaw of a flyball lean (which leads to gopheritis) for Pavano’s primary asset: a near-50% groundball rate.

I couldn’t believe he didn’t get a call up when they were floundering, but now their resurgence has been starting pitcher driven which could keep him down until late July, if not later.  I continue to have zero confidence in Nick Blackburn though there isn’t a shortage of smoke or mirrors in the United States so he might be fine, but Brian Duensing is better as a reliever and Gibson really should already have his spot at this point.  I would keep a close eye on Gibson’s progress and Minnesota’s transaction log because I think he could make an instant impact.

David Phelps (NYY) – Phelps has 156 strong innings at AAA the last two years yielding a 3.7 K/BB so I’m not sure why they even wasted their time with Brian Gordon, who had the impressive debut, but got obliterated on Wednesday in Cincinnati.  He is a 32-year old journeyman reliever and they are in the midst of a pennant race so Phelps or the next guy on this list, both college arms, probably should have gotten the nod there.  But that has passed.

The fact is that the 60% of their rotation is a question mark and you could make a case for as much as 80% given how unreliable AJ Burnett is start to start.  How much can Bartolo Colon deliver when he gets back from injury?  They can’t patchwork the entire rotation with rookies and so they will probably make a trade or two, but Phelps should get a chance at some point this year, especially if Phil Hughes doesn’t show marked improvement when he returns after two more rehab starts.

Adam Warren (NYY) – You can essentially re-read the above and fill in Warren for Phelps while tamping down the expectations a few notches as Warren hasn’t quite been as impressive.  He has just a 5.7 K/9 and 1.6 K/BB so don’t let his better ERA (3.07 to 3.38) fool you.  Still, Warren is a higher rated prospect within the org and minor league numbers don’t always tell the whole story so you will need to keep a close eye on the situation to know who is leading if/when another chance for promotion comes up.

Neil Ramirez (TEX) – How unexpected is Ramirez’s season?  He came in as the 27th ranked prospect in the org according to Baseball America and he was slated to start the season at High-A.  He did and in his only start there he struck out nine in 4.7 innings allowing just a hit and zero runs.  The AAA club needed an arm five days later so he got what was supposed to be a spot start.  After throwing six shutout innings against the blue chip-laden Kansas City Royals AAA affiliate allowing just three hits with five strikeouts and zero walks, the decision was made to keep him at AAA.

He hasn’t disappointed at all striking out 10 batters per game in his 62 innings and maintaining a strong 2.4 K/BB (the walk rate is a little high at 4.1) en route to a 3.65 ERA and 1.33 WHIP.  He has unquestionably been the best starter for the AAA team, but whether that means he will get the call at some point this year remains to be seen.  He isn’t without flaws.

Though he can pile up the strikeouts, the walks are an issue as I mentioned and he has a heavy flyball lean (never more than 40% GB at any level including 38% this year) which could be problematic in Arlington during the middle of the summer.  The way he has responded to being thrust into AAA this year makes me like his long-term prospects, but in the short-term he could be Derek Holland-esque with some tantalizing starts as well as some flameouts.  He is far from the Rangers’ best pitching prospect, too, which tells you how well they are set up going forward.

Brad Mills (TOR) – He was in the midst of a great season showing that perhaps it wasn’t so hard to pitch in the PCL with a 2.86 ERA in 85 innings halfway through June.  He has hit one helluva rough patch the last two outings combining for just 11 innings allowing 13 runs (11 earned) thanks in large part to four home runs pushing his season ERA to 3.57 in an 11 day span.  His skills still remain quite strong though with an 8.1 strikeout rate, 2.3 walk rate and 3.6 K/BB rate in 96 innings of work.

Yet somehow Zach Stewart leapfrogged him from AA to replace Kyle Drabek in the rotation.  With only Ricky Romero pitching anywhere near expectations, Mills should get another shot (he has 30 MLB IP over the last two years) at some point this summer.  He picked a nice time to finally have a breakout season in the minors and tame AAA hitters after two unsuccessful tries in 2009 and 2010.

Tom Milone (WAS) – Speaking of breakout seasons, this mid-tier organizational prospect has exploded at the AAA level enhancing his already brilliant control while amping up his strikeouts a bit to post a Cliff Leeian 16.4 K/BB rate in 76 innings (Lee was at 16.3 after 139 innings last year, but a late summer swoon pushed him all the way down to 10.3, 2nd-best in MLB history).  Milone was quite impressive last year at AA, but he has taken it to another level this year allowing as many homeruns as he has walks (5 apiece).

He doesn’t have overpowering swing & miss stuff so it would be a minor miracle for him to post anything near a strikeout per inning at the big league level, but he can no doubt be a backend of the rotation asset as a control artist who spins a gem every once in a while.  We have seen several guys with this kind of profile do some good things in the majors, especially this year with offense down so much.  I think he can be a John Lannan-plus trading some of Lannan’s big groundball rate for a strikeout rate better than Lannan’s nearly unusable sub-5.0 marks of the last three years.  I hope Milone gets a call soon as I am eager to see what he can do in the majors and how much of his gaudy statistical profile will come with him.  They are really putting something together in Washington.  It’s not always *only* about the blue-chippers as you need glue guys like Milone.

Wednesday: 06.22.2011

Second Base Addendum

After I posted the Keeper League Building Blocks for second base a reader mentioned a couple of names to me on Twitter that were to surprise exclusions for the reader: Dustin Ackley & Jemile Weeks.  The freshly called up prospects without 20 games between the two of them (17, 14 of which are Weeks’) weren’t included on purpose.  Anyone who has been reading this site for any amount of time since last year knows I am fan of both, so what gives?

A large portion of it has to do with their scant track records as we haven’t really seen how they will handle the majors leagues.  While I am bullish on both, I would certainly like to see more before recommending them as building blocks for a team.  Building block is the key phrase.  The point of this exercise is to identify the strongest and best players for your 2012 title run.  After all, you are trading your best 2011 pieces to your opponents so you need to get the best return possible.

Additionally, the fantasy profiles of each also contributes to their exclusion from a list that focuses so much on key contributors.  Ackley is supposed to be an on-base percentage monster (alas he’s yet to walk in his four games… so much for that, amirite???), but if you don’t play in an OBP league that hardly helps especially since he can have a great OBP based on walks with a batting average of .275 or below.

Let’s assume he does get on base at or near the 40% clip we’ve seen from him in his minor league career, who is going to drive him in?  They are less awful than last year’s historic futility, but they are still awful.  Beyond that, in the short-term he doesn’t profile to excel in any category whether as a pure hitter (batting average), a power producer (HR, RBI) or as a speedster (though he did get a 65 speed grade from Baseball America in their ’11 Handbook).  I think he can eventually become a .300+ hitter, but I don’t see it happening right away.

I really like Weeks, but like his brother Rickie he needs to show he can stay healthy which is something he has yet to do for a full season as a professional.  Initially he profiles as a speedster who could pile up SBs and use that speed for some extra hits en route to a good enough batting average (.260-.270).  Long-term his peak profile is a Ray Durham, but Durham didn’t start offering meaningful power or top .275 until his fourth year in the league.

The progression of youngsters isn’t linear so as hard as it is to project any player, it is even harder to project where Ackley & Weeks will go in 2012 and ultimately that is why I decided not to recommend them as essential building blocks for teams currently selling off their best players for foundational pieces.  If you have a deal lined up to get a building block, try to get one of these two thrown in, but don’t make them the centerpiece focus of a deal where you are trading your ace or $35 power bat.

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